Eurasians: The First British Born Chinese?

Eurasians: The First British Born Chinese?

DimSum: The British Chinese community website

Yvonne Foley

I am a Eurasian.  I am the daughter of an English mother and a Shanghai father.  In traditional Chinese culture, having a Chinese father, I am regarded as being Chinese.

I am part of a community that has been around for over 100 years.  We pre-date by many decades what many people seem to think is the point at which Britains’ Chinese community came into being.  The 1950s, when people from Hong Kong’s New Territories started to come to the UK.

Our fathers’ origins

Chinese men started to settle down in Britain in the last years of the nineteenth century. Right from the start they seemed to have few problems in getting partners amongst the working class girls of the cities in which they settled. Not very surprising when up to World War Two and even beyond it marriage for a young woman could mean violence and the most desperate poverty.  John Chinaman, as he was called at the time, was clean, sober, hard working and a good father. And, of course, more often than not he was quite a handsome man!

But where did these men come from?  For many, the answer they gave to any official who asked was ‘Hong Kong’. But that tells us little.  A Chinese seaman had to take an English language test – unless he was from Hong Kong.  So there were few who were prepared to say that they were not from Hong Kong unless they had confidence in their English language skills!  Where they were actually from ranged from Hainan Island to Fukien and Tientsin.  But since Shanghai was by far the most important commercial city in China and its major port, it seems that many were recruited there and in the nearby city of Ningbo

Read the entire article here. For more information about Liverpool’s early Chinese Community, see

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